Sometimes you get one of those comedies that really hits all the right buttons that is rare that you can recommend to anyone instantly whether they are an anime fan or not. Squid Girl is one of those.
What They Say:
Foolish land-born air breathers! Behold the terror from the depths, the tentacle conqueror of humanity: Squid Girl! With your pollution and stuff you really deserve it, so prepare from menacing, inky doom!
Unfortunately for our ecosystem, but fortunately for, you know…people and civilization and life as we know it…within moments of arriving on the surface world, our easily distracted little invertebrate is promptly bullied into working for the Aizawa sisters as a waitress and supplying their restaurant with squid ink. If poor Squid Girl can’t handle two pushy Japanese girls, how will she ever subjugate the human race?
The audio will be mentioned, because it’s one of the few releases in a while that doesn’t have a 5.1 release in either English or Japanese, instead it is a standard 2.0 stereo format on both audio tracks. This shows very considerably as the audio from the menu screen alone sounds very weak and scratchy, it does improve in the show a bit but again the sound does need to be turned up a bit to get to good listenable quality – there weren’t any problems concerning transition onto video, nor any issues with subtitles, but considering how colourful and quality the show is, it turns a bit of a disappointment to not get a 5.1 release.
The menu is as colourful as the show is, on a bright sea background with Squid Girl on her own with the menu cover on Disc 1, and sharing it with Eiko and Chizuru with Disc 2, with each of the sub menus pairing her with one of the secondary characters like Sanae and Kiyomi. First disc has easily accessible selections (play all, episodes, set up) as does disc 2 with extras as a selection. Fairly standard, pleasant to look at and no problems using it.
A few nice extras are included in the release. First there is the standard opening and ending in clean format, but with the endings, you get each of the unique endings in Squid Girl whether it’s Ika mourning her umbrella, Ika holding hands with Kiyomi, or Ika not noticing the army of Mini-Ika’s parading behind her. It was nice that we get all these.
Next, we get a sadly rather brief interview with Hisako Kanemoto(voice of Squid Girl), it’s only a minute and a half long, and it more like a very brief Q&A with questions being asked like what she likes about the show and how the two are similar. Very disappointed considering a longer interview would have been more appropriate.
Then we get hat-folding, with Kanemoto basically showing you how to make Squid Girl’s headgear/hat, simply that to see if you can make your own as well.
Lastly, we get two mini OVAs featuring the adorable Mini-Ika from episode 5. Mini Ika stole the show in the one third of the ep she was in that episode, and she proved popular enough to get two 5 minute OVAs, one where she has to fend off a Dark Mini-Ika who has invaded the house in a scene straight out of a Tom & Jerry cartoon, and the second one is where she visits the beach house to steal some shrimp, but a giant Sanae intends to steal her instead. The slapstick nature combined with the adorable nature that is Mini-Ika makes these a lot of fun to watch and am glad they added these to the complete UK release.
The UK seemed to have got a good deal with the release of Squid Girl in the UK – a surprise licence perhaps, the UK got the entire first season in one selection whilst the US had two half releases. Looking at the cover you get a colourful look, with a very cute looking anthromorphic squid girl basically in what showcases as a comedy anime, which can be hit or miss depending on your sense of humour. Yet this is one of the few series I can easily recommend to anyone, for the comedy, the characters, the price, and just how overall fun it is that it’s mostly very accessible to anybody.
We are introduced early to Squid Girl (or Ika-Musume) as she’s actually introduced like an antagonist, appears to be threatening from the sea, her motives clearly explained as trying to take revenge on the surface for selfish humans polluting the seas. And then they reveals herself…as a cute pre-teen girl with long blue hair for tentacles, a weird hat, and the ability to make fish/sea related puns in her speech. We are introduced to the Aizawa sisters – Eiko, the tomboy of the duo, who immediately thinks she’s just a cosplayer, before she sees the power of her tentacles, destroying part of the wall. And because of that, this all mighty squid…is now working at the beach house the two run to pay for the damages. Thanks to her tentacles, she is quite the useful worker, but the invading part is now on hiatus…mainly due to how big the earth is…and the fact that the older sister Chizuru, beautiful, kind, sweet…will kill her if she does anything wrong again…or runs out of squid ink for them to use on their squid ink spaghetti.
As you can tell, this is not a series that really focuses on plot. It is literally a comedy series which would not be out of place in say the old Looney Tunes or Hanna Barbara cartoons. What it does do is actually give Squid Girl some really good development as she discovers that humans can either be bad or good, as she learns to live on the surface world and discover the horrors of the fact orcas and sharks can live on the beach (or rather as toys), the horrors of stalkers (Eiko’s friend Sanae has a HUGE crush on Squid Girl, which provides a lot of slapstick, or the American Cindy who is convinced Squiddie is an alien and trying to squid-nap her for her lab) but discovering her love of purchasing 10000 yen worth of shrimp (before she realizes she could have used that to help pay for the hole in the wall), her love of finding someone who is afraid of her (Nagisa, the only person who actually sees her as a threat…and because of this, Squid Girl adores her), or just loving the fact she can make a friend…but afraid that Eiko and Chizuru will kill her for inviting her over without permission.
Each episode is set that it’s a 3 part episode, all working like a mini skit, none of them really focusing on the other mostly. Whilst the first and last episode does have a link (the first episode introduces the main characters, whilst the last deals with Ika possibly losing her powers and returning to the sea), they are mostly non-sequitters designed for viewers to simply watch and enjoy. As each of the segments doesn’t drag, this is a really refreshing way to watch a series, and works for a comedy series. It’s easy to navigate to each particular segment so if you have a particular favourite, just pick an episode and forward to the segment. The way it develops Squid Girl has to be commended, because it’s easy to forget that she in fact, an antagonist. She’s here to conquer Earth, but is used mostly as a plaything and a worker (Eiko always seems to forget what she was there originally) for the Aizawa siblings (their little brother never seems to realize her power and just sees her as a playmate). It’s how she interacts with each character and how they all react to her. For example, Squiddy doesn’t take Sanae and Cindy’s respective advances well so if they’re not tricking her, it’s measured but not too painful violence. On the opposite end, we have Nagisa who is terrified of the adorable squid girl, and whilst she tries to hide her fear at times, it never works. This being the exact reaction Squiddie wants, she tries everything to make Nagisa scared and enjoys it to the point she considered Nagisa an angel. In the middle, we have Squid Girl’s first real friend in Kiyomi, and here, the two actually simply act as normal school girls, and it’s really sweet to see the two interact whether playing video games, talking on the bench or playing baseball. On the other hand, she still holds her mission on hand, so when she finds a life saver a potential ally but the fact it doesn’t quite work how she wants, she just resorts to blackmail. She even laments how well she adapts to the surface world in everything but invading, but can still outwit the cast at times, as one great episode when it’s shown Squid Girl is actually really good at maths much to Eiko’s struggles. Cue Squid Girl taking FULL advantage for it to her benefit, but then realizing being a math wizard doesn’t exactly help in conquering Earth…but it does help make Eiko do her chores.
The end of the series does actually take a surprising plot twist which lasts for most of it where it opens up for a sequel as there may be more like her out there, and it’s fun to see just how much Squid Girl actually touched the hearts of the cast, and even more so when she can’t use her powers. It actually makes you feel for her, and I realized there why I felt this was not only one of the best anime comedies I’ve seen, but actually, one of the best shows I’ve seen as well. The cast are well written, each with their quirks but connections to the lead character, and how they play off each other is unique, fun and intelligent. Chizuru in particular I consider to be really underestimated as a sweet elder sister for everyone, but also someone you don’t want to cross. Whilst Squiddie is the star, everyone else gets their moments to share the spotlight through her and you get the little bits of development throughout (Goro’s crush on Chizuru, which Squiddie mercilessly exploits, Sanae trying to give up on Squiddie, Cindy and the three stooges at her lab, etc) – it’s interesting because it’s never set up to really have anything plot driven, it is a pure comedy all the way, but you do feel for the characters and how they develop with Squiddie, and Squiddie herself is a fantastic lead, funny, adorable, an anti-villain which a cause she does believe in, but can never start or finish it due to the circumstances. There are so many moments in the show that made me laugh that it’s impossible without me pretty much writing the whole script from the show, but this is a definite chuckler.
And Mini-Ika. You will want to adopt one. Now.
I rarely give grades this high in general to any series, much less a comedy series where the humour really needs to be good enough that anyone can laugh. Yet Squid Girl does that. The lead squid is a character who interacts with everyone on different ways, where the comedy can range from slapstick to thought provoking, to shaking with fear, to just being plain adorable. The writing and animation is colourful and superb, and the surprising character development of the lead really amounts to an experience where it’s an easily marathonable series, especially with the way the episodes are set up. Add to that a fun dub and Japanese audio, a complete series for under £20 where the UK seemed to have had a better deal in the US, combined with easy accessibility for newcomers and veterans to anime, I cannot recommend this highly enough. Welcome our new Squid Girl overlords!
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Textless Opening, Textless Closings 1-6, Interview (Hisako Kanemoto), Hat Folding, Mini Ika OVA Episodes
Content Grade: A
Audio Grade: C+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B
Released By: Manga Entertainment UK
Release Date: August 13th, 2012
Running Time: 312 minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Playstation3, Sony Bravia 32 Inc EX4 Television, Aiwa 2 Way Twin Duct Bass Reflex Speaker System.